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Basement Humidity: Get the Facts to Protect Your Home

humidify written on window

How much humidity is too much when it comes to your basement? The answer to this simple-sounding question can be more complicated than you expect.

The truth is, the environment in your basement is a world away from the environment in the rest of your home above ground, even though the two aren’t separated by much.

The reason for this is simple: while your above-ground rooms are bordered by air, your basement walls are surrounded by soil, and often quite moist soil at that.

This makes basement humidity one of the most pressing and potentially damaging issues homeowners have to deal with. In this timely post, get the facts about basement humidity so you can protect your space from flooding, leaks, mould, mildew and worse.

How Much Basement Humidity Is Too Much?

Whether your basement is finished or unfinished, current guidelines indicate that optimal basement humidity levels should stay between 30 and 50 percent year-round, just like in your above-ground rooms.

However, homeowners report that seasonal basement humidity levels routinely rise to above 80 percent, especially during the humid summer months and after heavy storms.

You can take your own basement humidity readings using an inexpensive tool called a hygrometer that is readily available at any home store. This tool will help you chart basement humidity trends so you can better understand the fluctuating environment in your basement.

What Makes Basement Humidity Worse

Many homeowners have no idea they may be inadvertently making the humidity issues in their basement even worse.

These are common missteps homeowners make when trying to control basement humidity levels.

Installing a basement exhaust system

Your kitchen probably has a stove exhaust and your bathroom likely has an exhaust fan too. So it is easy enough to see why you might think an exhaust vent is also the right choice to move humidity out of your basement.

The trouble is, all that a basement exhaust system is really going to do is push existing air out of your basement and draw new air in from elsewhere.

Ultimately, the air surrounding your basement is probably going to be just as humid as the air inside the basement, so you are basically installing an expensive system for nothing.

Not heating your basement in winter

Leaving your basement unheated in winter might look like a money-saving strategy, especially since heating bills represent the single largest annual utility expense for most homeowners.

Unfortunately, a cold basement beneath a warm upstairs is going to create ongoing problems with condensation and extra moisture in the basement that can quickly turn into mould and mildew growth.

Installing carpeting in your basement

Carpeting can definitely help absorb sound and also shield you from the cold concrete floor. But it won’t do your humidity problem any favours and can readily attract mould and mildew spores eager to colonize and spread.

Using fiberglass-based insulation for your basement

Fiberglass is a common and popular choice for home insulation. Unfortunately, fiberglass doesn’t cope very well with humid spaces. It tends to break down and then it can’t do its job, which makes humidity issues worse.

Storing biodegradable items in the basement

Another common oops is to trek downstairs with all your extra cardboard boxes full of papers, old books, files, memorabilia and decorations.

To mould and mildew spores, all those stacks of cardboard look just like home!

If you need to store cardboard boxes and their contents in the basement, be sure to elevate them off the ground and away from the floor by using shelving to avoid a buildup of condensation. Even better, transfer them to metal or plastic boxes that are mould-unfriendly.

What to Do Instead to Reduce Basement Humidity

Now you know what not to do to ensure your basement is less vulnerable to humidity that can lead to mould, mildew and worse.

But what should you do to prevent basement humidity levels from being too high and the damage this can cause?

Dehumidify and ventilate

Rather than exhaust systems, which do little more than move humid air around, what your basement really needs is proper dehumidification along with steady ventilation.

The dehumidifier will pull humidity out of the air and the ventilation system will ensure the air in your basement is fresh.

Keep your basement heated in winter

Experts recommend keeping your basement thermostat between 58°F and 60°F (14°C and 15.5°C) during the winter to reduce the likelihood of increasing humidity levels below-ground.

Opt for tile or vinyl floors

Unlike carpeting, tile and vinyl flooring is naturally mould- and mildew-resistant. It will also repel humidity in a way carpeting cannot.

Choose the right basement insulation

There is no substitute for choosing basement insulation that is designed to work in this unique type of space.

Installing the right type of insulation can actually repel basement mould and mildew spores as well as resist moisture buildup from condensation, seepage and leaks.

Apply preventative basement waterproofing

The smartest thing you can do to protect your basement and home from excessive humidity is proactively apply basement waterproofing.

Interior basement waterproofing is affordable today – and certainly much more so than the tens of thousands of dollars in remediation costs to remedy a mould infestation or basement flood.

Get in Touch

Have you been struggling to control rising humidity levels in your basement? Are you worried about mould or mildew as temperatures heat up this summer? We can help!

Complete this form to schedule your free, no-obligation basement inspection and quote.

One of our prompt, polite and highly trained service professionals will do a thorough evaluation of your basement and recommend preventative strategies to protect your investment – absolutely free!

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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Wait! Do These 5 Things Before You Finish Your Basement

basement finishing

Whether your vision for your basement space is to create an apartment you can rent to earn extra cash or develop a recreation room or something else, if you can dream it, you can likely do it!

But what you don’t want to do is start the hard work of finishing out your basement before you address the ever-present threat of moisture.

The simple truth is that basements are always more likely to suffer from moisture issues, whether it be from overly humid air or outright flooding.

Here, learn about five critical tasks you need to do before you proceed to finish out your basement space.

Save $43,000 in Flooded Basement Repairs

According to a recent report issued by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), the average flooded basement in Canada costs the average homeowner a whopping $43,000 to repair.

While making these repairs becomes unavoidable after the fact, in theory, this is never money well spent.

We say this because there is so much you can do now that costs so much less to protect your basement against the possibility of flooding.

Unless your particular insurer has specifically issued you a rider to cover overland flooding, you can’t expect the typical homeowners insurance policy to cover you for a flooded basement.

With climate change bringing ever more severe weather events throughout Canada, it can be smart to talk with your broker now about adding flood insurance to your homeowners policy.

Another smart choice is to take the steps we are about to outline here to protect your basement against flooding.

Five Key Tasks to Do Before Finishing Your Basement

We strongly encourage you to take the time to attend to these five critical tasks before moving along to add extra bells and whistles to your basement space.

When you do, you will enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing your basement is as protected from moisture and flooding as you can possibly make it!

1. Test for Moisture Throughout Your Basement

You can test for moisture in several different ways. One easy way is to purchase a simple, cheap tool from your local home store called a hygrometer that takes instant humidity readings from the air. Your goal is to keep humidity between 30 and 50 percent on a consistent basis to prevent mould and mildew.

Another good way to test for moisture but will take a bit longer is to take a length of plastic tarp and cut it into half-meter lengths. Tape some on the floor and some on the walls.

Check every week to see if you see moisture above or below the sheets. Moisture above means you have too much humidity in the air. Moisture below means you have water seeping up through your basement walls or floor.

2. Install Interior Basement Waterproofing

Most basements have a natural issue with humidity and slow moisture seepage. This is simply the nature of basements, which experience hydrostatic pressure from the surrounding soil, water table and watering runoff that your above-ground space never will.

Interior basement waterproofing is an easy and fast treatment that can be applied to guard against moisture damage from outside seepage. Affordable basement waterproofing is one of the best ways to guard against rot, mould, mildew, pests and leaks.

3. Run Your Sump Pump System Through Its Paces

If you have just installed a brand-new sump pump system, you probably feel pretty confident it will work for you when you need it. But what about when the power goes out – do you have a backup system that will keep it running during an outage?

If you have an older sump pump, installing a backup is not just a great safeguard against flooding during power outages but it can also help to extend the useful life of your existing sump pump.

4. Reevaluate Your Grading, Drainage System & Window Wells

Extreme weather isn’t the only reason basements flood each year. One of the most common issues with basement flooding is actually caused by improper grading (landscaping), blocked or damaged window wells and an inadequate home drainage system.

Without sufficient drainage around your house, the water won’t have anywhere else to go but down toward your basement. Taking the time to clean out blocked window wells, add downspout extensions and refresh the landscape grading around your foundation can direct excess water away naturally.

5. Ensure Adequate Ventilation & Install Safety Alarms

An essential safety precaution before finishing out your basement space is to guard against the buildup of toxic chemicals such as radon and carbon monoxide.

Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is present naturally in the soil throughout Canada, is responsible for 16 percent of annual lung cancer cases.

Carbon monoxide, an odourless, colourless gas that is produced during incomplete combustion, kills an estimated 50 people every year throughout Canada.

Scheduling a safety inspection and preventative maintenance for all major appliances and systems located in your basement can also guard against fire and health risks.

Schedule a Free, Easy Inspection and Quote

We get calls every day from customers who truly regret not taking the time to complete the five steps we’ve just outlined here before finishing or renovating their basement.

As tempting as it is to save money or just forge ahead with the fun work, you have plenty of options for first creating a safe and secure, humidity-balanced, water-resistant, functional and beautiful basement space that are likely more affordable than you realize.

Here at Omni Foundation Systems, we are happy to provide you with a complete site inspection and free no-obligation quote for foundation, crawl space or basement waterproofing or repair.

Get in Touch

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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5 Reasons Your Basement Walls Lean, Bow, Sag or Crack & What to Do

omni team working in basement

It can be a real shock to look up one day and perceive what can at first appear to be an optical illusion – is your chimney...leaning?

This is often the first warning sign a homeowner will get that there may be bigger, deeper problems, way down in the basement.

For homes lacking a chimney or other vulnerable, visible above-ground structures, bowing, sagging, leaning, sinking or cracking basement walls can be a lot harder to spot. Sometimes a homeowner might not even realize a problem exists until water floods their basement.

Because tilting, leaning, sagging or cracking basement walls are much more common than you might realize, it is really important to learn about early warning signs so you can make repairs before the problem gets worse.

What Causes Basement Walls to Lean, Bow, Sag or Crack?

Figuring out how to fix cracks in basement wall structures begins with developing a better understanding of what causes them and similar structural problems in the first place.

Several contributing factors can be present before a basement wall starts to become visibly impacted.

Hydrostatic pressure

Hydrostatic pressure is often a temporary phenomenon that develops after significant rainfall or flooding from a broken water pipe, a forgotten garden hose or similar causes.

Hydrostatic pressure is a result of trapped water in the soil that is trying to find a pathway out. Often the easiest escape route comes in the form of existing micro-fissures or small cracks in the cement of your basement walls.

As water begins to find its way in, once again hydrostatic pressure exerts its influence and causes the fissures or cracks to widen. Over time, this degradation of the wall can cause bowing, leaning, sagging or outright cracking and flooding conditions.

Soil pressure

Expansive soils such as clay can cause excess pressure to build up against one or more walls of your basement. Soils often expand after rainfall or water influx from changing water tables, lawn watering and the like.

This is why it’s important to learn all you can about the soil content surrounding your home and basement.

Clay soils can cause excess pressure because of their naturally expansive nature, while poorly graded (uniform particle size) soils can cause pressure from trapped moisture.

In either case, uneven pressure on your basement walls from the outside in can cause strange changes, from bowing (concave, convex) in the middle to leaning in or out from the floor.

Unstable soil

When the soil surrounding your home and basement is inherently unstable (which means it shifts easily), the issue causing bowed or sagging walls may have to do with your basement foundation.

Shifting soils can at times exert sufficient pressure to relocate your basement floor, such as after an earth tremor or quake, a significant flooding event or an ongoing environmental drought that leaches all the moisture out of the soil.

When the foundation floor moves, the basement walls may not move in unison with it. Walls with different structural issues can indicate it is actually the floor that is moving.

Warning Signs of Shifting Basement Walls

You may not be able to tell that your basement wall or floor is beginning to significantly shift or move from the outside looking in (or even from the inside looking out)!

But there are additional warning signs you can watch for that can signal the beginnings of basement wall issues. The earlier you can catch these developing problems, the cheaper and faster the repairs will be.

Doors or windows won’t open or close

When your doors or windows start sticking or refusing to stay closed, this can be a sign that your basement walls have begun to bow, sag or lean.

You can watch for similar signs with drawers and cabinets if you have these in your basement space. Drawers or cabinet doors that keep falling open can indicate an inward-leaning wall, while drawers that become self-closing can signal an outward-leaning wall.

Increasing humidity or signs of damp

Increasing indoor humidity is one key sign that moisture is somehow getting into your basement space. With an influx of moisture can come wall degradation as fissures or widening cracks, causing structural collapse.

Uneven or creaking floors

A creaking, bowed or sloping floor may add ambience to an antique space, but it is really not a good sign, structurally speaking.

Wall or floor cracks

Cracks appearing in walls, floors, crown moulding, windows, paint or wallpaper are another telltale indication that something is changing in the structure of your basement.

How to Fix Crack in Basement Wall Affordably

It is never easy to discover that your basement floors or walls have started to do something they shouldn’t. But leaning, bowing, sagging or cracking walls or floors can be fixed – and the earlier, the better.

All it takes is a phone call to generate a free, no-obligation inspection and estimate for making your basement repairs.

Wall anchors and braces

Wall anchors and braces offer a great way to stabilize moving walls. These nifty gadgets work a lot like braces for teeth – not only do they prevent further movement, but also, over time, appropriately installed anchors and braces actually move walls back into their proper position.

Wall reinforcers

Carbon fiber straps can be applied directly to affected walls to stabilize bowing before it gets any worse. For minimal issues, this may be all that’s needed. For more serious issues, wall straps can delay the need for additional repairs so you can save up for them.

Piers and posts

If it’s your foundation itself that is moving and taking your walls with it, then we can install piers or posts to give your floor the support it needs.

Get in Touch

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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Is Your Basement Paint Bubbling or Cracking? We Can Fix That!

bubbling and peeling paint due to basement dampness

Finishing out your basement space can feel so great. You have a whole extra room in your home to use for anything you want – from a home office to a small apartment to a recreation room for your family.

But it can also be extremely frustrating when you just finish renovating your basement and right away the freshly applied paint starts to bubble, crack or – worst of all – flake off or peel away from the walls.

You did everything the instructions indicated, from prepping the walls properly to applying the primer and letting it dry fully to applying the paint, coat by painstaking coat. What could be causing this?

We know what – and we suspect you aren’t going to like it. Bubbling, cracking, flaking, peeling paint nearly always indicates excessive humidity in the basement.

Find out how to positively identify the culprit and what fixes are available to ensure you can avoid repainting again and again… or worse, abandoning all that useful basement space!

What Causes Flaking Paint in the Basement?

There are a few types of moisture that may be impacting your freshly painted basement walls (the same holds true for crawl space walls that are painted).

1. Overly humid air

The subtlest cause of paint damage is overly humid basement air. The environment in the average basement is quite a bit different from the rest of your home above the ground level.

There is less air circulation and ventilation and increased moisture from water trapped in the surrounding soil. Even well-constructed new basements can feel more humid because of these environmental differences.

But uncorrected overly humid air can wreak havoc on paint and furnishings, causing persistent damp, degradation, even mildew and mould over time.

2. Micro-fissures

There are two common construction approaches to building basements. The first involves using poured concrete and the second involves stacking concrete bricks. The types of micro-fissures that develop in your basement walls can look different depending on what type of materials were used to construct your basement, but either way, they will be there.

Concrete itself is naturally porous and never more so than when it is first poured and is drying out. Drying concrete settles and develops tiny cracks called micro-fissures as it does so.

When there is an excess of water (hydrostatic pressure) in the soil surrounding your basement, moisture will find its way into these tiny fissures, traveling as far as it can until it either gets blocked or finds an outlet.

Micro-fissures can expand over time with increased hydrostatic pressure, shifting soils and other factors. Tiny leaks that emerge from your basement walls behind the paint can cause bubbles that turn into flakes, cracks and peeling paint.

3. Outright cracks

Sometimes a micro-fissure can widen into a bona fide crack. Other times, it is another structural issue, such as a changing water table, earthquake activity, major floods and similar events that create cracks.

These cracks then become ready pathways for trapped water to travel. When cracks continually allow moisture to flow into your basement, your wall paint will often be the first to alert you to their presence.

Fixing Flaking Basement Paint

It is never easy (let alone fun) to notice paint problems in your basement and realize what that means. Now you have to rustle up a contractor, figure out what is wrong, gather quotes, decide what to do and when to do it.

The good news is that the faster you take action to fix the problem, the less you are likely to spend and the faster and easier the repairs will go. When the issue is bubbling or flaking basement paint, waiting in hopes that the issue will resolve itself is never a viable solution.

Here at Omni Basement, what surprises our customers the most is how affordable basement waterproofing has become. You have lots of options depending on the source of your moisture issue and nearly all are easy and quick to implement.

Use a dehumidifier

For very minor moisture issues, sometimes the simplest solution is also the right one.

Adding a portable dehumidifier to your basement space can remove excess humidity and control against damage to paint and furnishings.

Repair fissures or cracks

If existing cracks are detectable, we recommend sealing them before moving to waterproof your basement space.

This prevents trapped moisture from getting stuck behind the moisture barrier.

Apply basement waterproofing

Basement waterproofing can be applied to the exterior or the interior of your basement space.

Unless we are applying waterproofing as part of new construction, we always recommend interior waterproofing, which is far more affordable and significantly less invasive.

Backup sump system

Even the best sump pump may occasionally need backup support, especially during a power outage. Installing a backup sump system ensures your sump pump will remain operational when you need its help the most.

For older sump systems, a backup can also extend your sump’s useful life.

Window and well drain repair

Over time, window and well drains quite naturally get clogged with dirt, debris, leaf litter, even leftover nest materials from small burrowing animals. When these drainage routes get blocked, it can cause water to back up into your basement.

Sometimes clearing out these drains and making any necessary repairs can effectively reroute incoming water without need for further repairs.

Gutters and downspouts

Your home’s exterior drainage is just as important to basement integrity as window and well drains, sump pumps and backups and crack repair.

Cleaning out gutters and adding gutter guards, installing downspout extensions and correcting eroding grading can all help with routing water away from your home’s foundation and basement.

Basement insulation

Basement insulation is specially designed to guard against mildew, mould and moisture buildup.

Get in Touch

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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Does Your Home's Crawl Space Give You the Creepy-Crawlies? 4 Steps to Fix it Fast!

pink insulation closeup

There is no doubt the concept of a crawl space beneath a home is a brilliant one. It’s great for storage, for one thing. But also, why not build in ready access to piping, wiring and other essentials from the start so you don’t have to go on an archeological dig later when something goes wrong?

But over time, crawl spaces can become, well, creepy. After all, who knows what else is hanging out under there?

Plus, if you are at all claustrophobic, just the thought of crawling inside that enclosed space may well give you the creepy-crawlies.

Are you reluctant to use your crawl space when you need to, even though that is exactly what it is there for? These four steps can help you fix that fast!

But First, A Word About Crawl Space Maintenance Basics

Not all homeowners are aware that crawl spaces, like practically every other element of the average home, need regular maintenance to preserve their original function.

This is why it is vital to make sure the inspection for any home you want to buy includes a full survey of the crawl space area.

If you are currently living in a home equipped with a crawl space and you don’t know its maintenance history from the prior owner, you can take a peek and figure it out for yourself.

If your crawl space is humid, damp, dank, and smells and looks suspicious, there is a good chance it wasn’t high on the previous owner’s home maintenance to-do list.

Step 1: It’s Spring Cleaning (and Sanitizing) Time

This first step, cleaning up your crawl space, tends to be the step the vast majority of homeowners want to avoid. After all, it doesn’t look inviting, especially if the floor is dirt; it doesn’t smell very good; and it can be pretty tight in there, especially for tall people, if there’s ductwork running along the ceiling.

You do have to clean up your crawl space before you move on to the other three steps. Otherwise, you risk permanently locking up inside all of the things that are wrong with your crawl space!

But here is some good news: you don’t have to clean your crawl space yourself. You can hire someone who has all of the right gear and equipment to go in and clean and sanitize and get you moving to step 2.

The extra advantage to opting for professional crawl space cleaning is that if your professional cleaning crew finds mould, mildew, rodents, insects or other special problems during the cleaning, you will have experts available to take care of each problem the correct way the first time.

Step 2: A Little Ventilation (Plus Encapsulation) Goes a Long Way

Ventilation has long been the remedy of choice for overly damp or humid crawl spaces. But ventilation on its own doesn’t always solve these problems effectively and sometimes can even add to the problem.

The climate you live in can determine whether ventilation alone is sufficient to reduce the presence of moisture and humidity inside your crawl space.

A long-term sure-cure for both issues is something called encapsulation. Encapsulation is basically the superhero version of ventilation. Encapsulation, as the name implies, seals off your crawl space from the outside with physical barriers that prevent unwelcome visitors from re-entering.

Encapsulation also reduces humidity by preventing groundwater from seeping back up into your crawl space. Ventilation and encapsulation can be used together for the most complete long-term solution.

Step 3: Drain and Dehumidify

Your home’s crawl space has a big job to do. In the dry season, the job is pretty easy. But during seasonal storms and in summer, moisture can quickly get the best of an older, poorly maintained or neglected crawl space.

Runoff from rainfall, seasonal lawn watering runoff and melting snow can readily accumulate in your crawl space, only to find it has nowhere else to go. Once inside, this standing water is a 24/7 invitation to mould, mildew, insects and animals to make themselves at home.

Crawl spaces need drainage options as much as basements do for exactly this reason. A crawl space drainage system will move water out of the crawl space as rapidly as it enters.

The other essential element to keep your crawl space dry and clean is a dehumidifier. The dehumidifier does for airborne moisture and humidity what the drainage system does for standing groundwater – it makes sure moisture doesn’t stick around to cause any harm.

Step 4: Insulate to Regulate

Insulation isn’t just protective and comfortable for your home itself. It is also a great tool to regulate and protect your crawl space.

As a perk, insulating your crawl space will help to maintain temperature and humidity integrity between your home above and your crawl space below. In the process, insulation will also lower your annual energy costs and prevent unpleasant crawl space odours from infiltrating your home as they drift up through the ground floor.

You may especially notice the difference crawl space insulation makes when the expensive winter heating season arrives! Homeowners who have invested in insulated crawl spaces happily report that their homes stay warmer even on the coldest days, often without any need to reach for the thermostat.

There are all kinds of insulation that can be installed inside your crawl space. But we recommend our own TerraBlock™ crawl space flooring insulation that readily insulates over all types of surfaces: dirt, cement, stone and more.

Whether installed on its own or with an accompanying ceiling liner, insulation is the final barrier: it repels everything from humidity and moisture to insects and mould spores.

Get in Touch

Is your crawl space giving you the heebie-jeebies? We are crawl space cleanup, ventilation, encapsulation, dehumidification, drainage and insulation experts!

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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Is Your Sump Pump Always Running? What You Need to Know Now!

backup sump pump

Sump pumps are one of the more mysterious elements of home ownership.

While most new homes in Ontario have some type of sump pump system, most homeowners (and especially first-time homebuyers) do not realize this may not be enough to protect your home from water damage.

With older homes, sump systems are less likely to be routed properly for new groundwater and runoff management regulations and are even less likely to have a backup system in place.

Understanding what type of sump pump system you have, what it will (or won’t) do if there is a power outage, how water is routed and how the system is supposed to work is critical to avoid damage due to seepage, leaks or outright flooding.

In this post, we talk about what you need to know about your sump system to protect your home and basement.

Sump Pumps Need Regular Maintenance

When was the last time you scheduled a safety inspection and preventative maintenance service for your sump system?

If you recently purchased your home and the previous owner did not provide good records, you may have no idea if this service has ever been done.

Yet sump pumps, just like other major appliances, require regular maintenance to work properly and ward off major repairs and outages. A sump system that is neglected can readily develop leaking seals, a faulty motor or parts that begin to rust or break.

You should schedule an inspection and preventative maintenance at least annually to clean the screen, the pump mechanism and the sump pit. Making small repairs, adding lubrication and adjusting the float can keep small issues from turning into major outages.

Your Sump Pump May Not Work In a Power Outage

Sump systems all too often fall into our “out of sight, out of mind” category – we may not be consciously aware on a day-to-day basis of how frequently our sump system runs or how well it runs.

Yet unless your sump pump has a backup system in place, it will likely fail to work during a power outage, which is often the time you need its protection the most!

There are different types of backup systems you can choose, from simple organic systems powered by water pressure to battery-operated backups and generator-run backups.

The important action is to make sure you have a backup system in place before you need it!

Sump Pumps Shouldn’t Run Continuously

You have a sump pump system in place to keep water from accumulating in your basement. If your sump system is running, this means it is doing its job.

But if your sump pump is running all the time, this in itself is a signal that all is not well in your basement.

A continuously running sump pump system indicates that water is constantly making its way inside your basement. Not only will a constantly-running sump pump experience more wear and tear that can reduce its useful life, but there may come a time when it can no longer keep up with the influx of water.

One of the leading causes of sudden sump system failure is overwork. Your sump pump system should not be running all the time.

There are a number of potential issues that may cause constant water influx, from shifting soil to a rising water table, widening cracks in basement walls or foundations, and more.

What to Do If Your Sump Pump Is Always Running

If your sump pump seems to never stop running, it is time to look deeper to find out why.

Identify leaks and seal them

Identifying separating wall and floor seals, micro-fissures or cracks, blocked wells or broken drains and other causes of chronic moisture influx is vital so that you can take preventative steps to keep this moisture out.

A number of affordable basement waterproofing options exist to reduce the workload and wear and tear on your sump pump system.

In most cases, the most effective approach will be interior basement waterproofing combined with crack or fissure repair as needed.

If you have blocked window wells or drains or your existing exterior gutter and drainage system is allowing water to flow back into your basement, making upgrades can effectively route moisture away and reduce your sump system’s workload.

Ensuring your sump pump has a backup

The next vital step is to make sure your sump pump isn’t alone in its efforts to keep your basement sound and dry.

If your sump pump is older, it may be time to talk about an upgrade to a newer, more efficient and powerful model. Installing a sump pump backup system at the same time can ensure you get the most value out of your new sump long term.

Even if your sump pump still has a lot of useful life left in it, installing a backup system will ensure it won’t fail you when you need it most.

Installing a backup system can not only protect your home today from water damage and flooding, but also enhance the resale value of your property when it comes time to sell.

Get a FREE Book on Dry Basement Science

If you have concerns about a continuously running sump pump or basement moisture, we can help.

Contact us for a FREE no-obligation site inspection and written estimate, plus a free copy of our book Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why.

Get in Touch

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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2 Types of Basement Waterproofing: How to Pick the Right Type for Your Basement

two doors

Owning a home with a basement can be a blessing and a challenge.

When things are going well, that extra basement space is a handy source of storage, a place to stash the kids for playtime and a boost to the eventual resale value of your home.

But when things start to go south down under, suddenly that same basement space is just one more source of stress in an already stressful life.

Remembering one key fact can help you navigate those first scary signs of a basement leak: given enough time, most basements will eventually leak.

You can prepare for that day by learning about the three types of basement waterproofing so you know who to call and what to ask for when the need arises.

Why Do Basements Leak?

There is something inherently different about having a room that sits below the ground surface of your home. Instead of air, this part of your home is surrounded by soil with its ever-shifting moisture content.

Environmental conditions below the ground floor of your home can also be quite different. It is typically both more humid and lower in temperature than the other rooms above the surface.

As well, while the portion of your home from the ground floor up may be made of drywall, brick, wood, vinyl or some combination thereof, the portion from the ground floor down is almost always made out of poured concrete or concrete bricks.

Concrete is naturally quite porous, which means it lets water through to a greater degree than most other materials used in home construction. Like it or not, know it or not, the concrete used to create your basement is always letting in the tiniest molecules of moisture here and there, although in most cases this is no cause for concern.

It is concerning when that moisture finds a wider fissure, gap, crack or crevice to seep through. Because your basement is built below ground level, moisture will often trickle in from the top down as well as seep up through the soil below.

While concrete is quite durable overall, over time and with continued exposure to shifting soil, pressure from tree roots, changing water table levels and other factors, it will start to degrade. That is when larger fissures or cracks can form in the concrete walls or flooring and let in moisture.

As well, over time, inbuilt window wells and weeping tiles can get clogged, damaged or broken and stop doing their job of routing water away from your basement.

Warning Signs of Basement Moisture

There are several early warning signs that moisture is beginning to invade your basement space.

Increasing humidity

There are certain seasons each year that bring more moisture and thus more humidity. But if you notice your basement feels consistently more humid than usual, this can be a sign that moisture is beginning to invade through micro-fissures and cracks in the concrete.


Efflorescence is a white, powdery dust that forms when water evaporates and leaves its mineral salt passengers behind.

Persistent dampness

When the walls or floor start to take on a sheen, you see condensation on windows or the surfaces feel somewhat damp, this is another sign of a moisture invasion.

Standing water

Of course, any standing water is cause for concern, especially if your sump system never seems to fully shut off or you actually see moving water in your basement.

2 Types of Basement Waterproofing

There are two basic methods for waterproofing a basement.

Exterior basement waterproofing

Exterior basement waterproofing is typically cost-prohibitive as well as highly invasive for an existing home.

If you are in the process of constructing a new home, however, exterior basement waterproofing can be done as your basement is being built.

Interior basement waterproofing

Interior basement waterproofing is both affordable and much less invasive than exterior waterproofing. It is the method of choice for nearly all existing homes and can be done whether or not your basement is finished.

Interior basement waterproofing can involve a number of fixes depending on the cause of the basement leak.

For example, if you have a visible crack in the wall or floor, filling the crack is the first step towards preventing future moisture seepage.

Improving existing drainage systems is another key to the success of interior basement waterproofing. This can mean repairing blocked or damaged window wells, installing a French drain and a back-up sump pump system, improving gutters and downspout routing outside your home, and landscaping to guide moisture runoff away from your basement.

Sealants are another key element in interior basement waterproofing. Different types of sealants can be used depending on the moisture issue you are experiencing and its location.

In most cases, a full interior basement waterproofing job can be completed in just a day or two with minimal disruption to your daily life.

Affordable Basement Waterproofing Is Just a Call Away

Many homeowners are reluctant to contact a basement waterproofing professional for fear of hearing bad news, and this is totally understandable.

However, basement waterproofing issues do not generally resolve themselves. Rather, in our long experience, we have found they typically just get worse.

So if there is one ironclad guarantee we can offer you, it is this: Your basement waterproofing job will always be more affordable if you do it now rather than putting it off until there’s a worse problem.

The good news is that we won’t charge you a thing to come out, take a look, diagnose the problem and generate an estimate to waterproof your basement.

Once you know what is wrong, you can make plans to fix it, whether you decide to do it today, next week or next year.

Get in Touch

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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Basement Waterproofing Doesnít Have to Break Your Budget: Get a Free Inspection Now!

man with closed nose due to smell

Flooding. Paint flaking. Powdery white stuff on the walls or floor. Humidity. Smells. Mould.

The list of strange things that can occur inside the average basement goes on and on. But what does it all mean? Is it normal for your basement to smell a little If you see paint flakes, is it just a sign of age or something else, something worse?

These are normal and natural questions that most homeowners with basements will ask themselves at some point during the course of home ownership. Unfortunately, not every homeowner will stop to do the research to find the correct answers to these questions.

When warning signs like standing water, paint flaking, efflorescence (white powdery residue), odours, humidity and similar signals are consistently ignored, what is likely a minor problem begins to get bigger. In time, the homeowner discovers they now have a major moisture problem on their hands, and that is when we get that first panicked call.

We don’t want this to happen with your basement space! The truth is, the vast majority of repairs and basement waterproofing jobs are actually quite affordable, provided you take action when you first spot an issue and seek to remedy it within a reasonable time frame.

7 Basement Warning Signs You Don’t Want to Downplay

Let’s take a look at seven of the most common warning signs that can arise to let you know your basement may need maintenance or repairs.

Remember, catching these warning signs in their early stages means you are likely facing a minor repair rather than a major budget-breaker!

Odd odours

If you are used to living in a home that has an older basement space, you may be rather acclimated to the chronic musty, stale or simply strange odour that arises when you enter your basement.

Most people who have grown up with a basement in their home don’t think much of these types of smells.

Unfortunately, just because your basement (and every basement you’ve ever lived with) has always smelled that way doesn’t mean it is normal or healthy.

More than likely, those strange odours indicate your basement air is stale and oxygen-poor, possibly overly humid and perhaps contaminated with mildew or mould spores that you can’t see but you certainly can smell.

Sump pump malfunction

A sump pump, like any major appliance, has a useful life. Timely maintenance and minor repairs can absolutely extend the useful life of your sump pump but can’t always make up for conditions that tax your sump system beyond what it was designed to handle.

If your sump system seems like it never shuts off, this could be because your basement is taking on extra water on a regular basis. Not only is this going to add wear and tear to your sump pump, but in time, a sump failure could lead to a major basement flood.

Persistent humidity

Persistent humidity is another one of those so-called “normal” situations that many people expect to find inside their basement. But it actually isn’t normal—or at least it shouldn’t be!

Along with humidity, you often find mildew, mould, insects and even small animals who are lured by the presence of consistent moisture. Each of these can conspire to make a mildly unpleasant situation a whole lot worse and much more expensive to fix.


Efflorescence is the technical term for that white powdery residue left behind after water evaporates. Efflorescence is composed of mineral salts that get carried along in the water as it enters your basement. When the moisture dries up, the white powder gets left behind as a calling card.

For many people unfamiliar with efflorescence, it is easy to assume it is just dust.

But if your “dust” keeps appearing in very odd places, such as midway up the wall or in the middle of the floor, chances are good it is not actually dust at all but a sign you have water seeping into your basement.

Standing water

Standing water is easier to interpret than efflorescence. When you see a puddle or slick spot in your basement, you know what you are looking at.

Standing water indicates your basement has taken on water that isn’t getting routed back out again. This is a source of concern that requires immediate investigation.

Paint flaking

Flaking paint is sometimes due to simple old age, especially if the original paint wasn’t of the best quality or the basement area where the paint is has experienced a lot of wear and tear.

But paint flaking can also indicate unseen moisture, such as when mould or mildew, consistent humidity or seeping moisture causes the paint to flake off.

Mould and mildew

Mould and mildew are pretty much every homeowner’s nightmare. But what you need to remember is that mould and mildew are everywhere—in the air, soil and water—and not all of it is bad.

The important thing here is not to wait when you suspect a mould or mildew invasion because it can be dangerous to your health.

Have your basement evaluated promptly and find out what kind of mould you have and what you are dealing with. Then you can take the next steps before the issue gets worse.

Free Inspections & Affordable Basement Solutions You Can Trust

You can’t go wrong with a free inspection and quote, which is exactly what you get when you call us.

From there, we will work with you to identify the most affordable and appropriate repair for your basement.

Our simple, quick solutions include interior waterproofing, crack repair, installation of backup sump protection, repair or installation of window wells and drains, adding insulation or downspout extensions, and doing drainage repairs or additions as needed. Most repairs only take one to two days!

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Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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Is Your Crawl Space Sloping, Smelly, Moist or Musty? We Can Fix It!

mold under floor

There are perks that come with having a crawl space in your home.

For example, it can be easier to get to components that may need maintenance or repair. This can help ease worries about damage from intense storms that may cause temporary flooding.

However, owning a home with a crawl space can come with certain drawbacks as well. These drawbacks often become more apparent with age, climate change or as the surrounding terrain changes.

Often, your crawl space will try to communicate with you to let you know something is wrong. Warning signs can include musty odours, standing water that persists, support beams that appear to be leaning or rotting in places, flooring changes and similar signals.

If you know that these types of warning signs indicate your crawl space may need maintenance or repair, you can nip crawl space problems in the bud before expenses skyrocket!

Why Tackle Crawl Space Repairs Now Instead of Waiting?

It is never fun to hear that your crawl space needs maintenance or repairs. But there is a bright side: once you repair and update your crawl space as needed, you may save up to 25 percent on home energy bills year-round!

In Ontario, the average homeowner spends around $2,358 per year on energy. Of that amount, an estimated 64 percent goes to heating and cooling the home.

A savings of just 25 percent translates to $377 back in your pocket annually, which means your crawl space repair is likely to pay for itself in just a year or two!

6 Warning Signs Your Crawl Space Needs Maintenance

These are six of the most common crawl space maintenance and repair issues that homeowners report.

Strange odours

Strange odours tend to be one of the most immediately noticeable warning signs that something may be amiss inside your crawl space.

The odour of lingering humidity, mould or mildew spores, dead animals, rotting wood and similar debris can smell like dirty gym socks, unwashed swimsuits, bagged grass clippings, decaying waste and, even worse, a combination of these.

When odours begin to accumulate, this means the cause has been present for some days or perhaps weeks or longer. So you don’t want to wait to get in there and investigate to find the cause!

Mould and mildew

Mould and mildew can be hard to spot initially unless there is a sufficient quantity to give off odours.

This is because mould and mildew can form in cracks and crevices and up inside the interior of the crawl space support structure, where it is hard to see even if you shine a flashlight on it.

Often, it is a scent that first alerts you to growing mould or mildew colonies. At other times, rotting support beams or sagging soft flooring can indicate that mould or mildew may be growing.

Unwelcome visitors

At certain times of year, it is natural to see more insects and small animals lurking in and around your crawl space. After all, to a small creature, the relative darkness and dampness of the crawl space can look like a great refuge from predators and a fine place to raise a family.

But if you start seeing a rise in the local insect or animal population, or if odours such as waste or decay alert you to their presence, this means the issue has become sufficiently problematic to warrant further investigation.

Insects and rodents, in particular, can wreak havoc by burrowing into wood, chewing electrical wires and creating a very dangerous situation for all involved.


Humidity is one of the most common issues that crawl space owners face, especially if your crawl space is of an older vintage.

This is why crawl spaces are typically recommended only for homes built in drier climates, but even this doesn’t prevent seasonal moisture or climate change from allowing humidity or water to accumulate.

Humidity isn’t necessarily a problem in its own right—it is what humidity attracts that causes issues. Mould and mildew are naturally attracted to dark, cool, humid places. Insects and animals are attracted to a natural supply of water or moisture as well.

Rotting supports

As humidity, moisture, mould or mildew accumulates consistently, the organic materials used to build and support your crawl space can begin to degrade and, over time, flat-out rot.

Sometimes you can see this in the support beams as they begin to degrade on the surface, complete with soft spots and shedding particulate matter as proof. Other times, you may actually see the supports start to lean as they rot from beneath.

Sagging floors

Old, creaky, squeaky floors do lend some ambiance to older dwellings, but a well-built floor is really not supposed to sound like the rhythm section in a garage band!

If your floors are getting squeakier, creakier, saggier or bouncier, this is a potential sign that your crawl space is being invaded or degraded by any of the issues we just reviewed here.

Affordable Crawl Space Solutions That Really Work

Most crawl space solutions are really quite affordable, especially if you catch the problem early!

The most common solutions we recommend include adding dehumidification, ventilation and drainage, insulation and encapsulation.

Dehumidification, ventilation and drainage ensures that existing, lingering humidity, moisture and water are swiftly and permanently ushered out of your crawl space.

Insulation and encapsulation then damp-proofs your crawl space to prevent moisture, insects, animals and other issues from invading your crawl space in the future.

Get in Touch

Has your crawl space recently started smelling funny, collecting water, leaning or sagging or rotting, or is something else amiss and you can’t quite figure out what is going on? We can help!

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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Help! My Basement Wall Has a Crack! An Expertís Take On What To Do First

basement crack what to do first

When you own a home, you never know when the day may come that you walk into your basement and notice one of your walls has developed a crack.

Even though finding a crack in your basement wall is always going to be stressful, it can help to know this is actually quite common.

This is especially the case in older homes and in those built on unstable terrain where soil has a high natural moisture content, such as near the beach. But any home can develop a crack in the basement wall given sufficient time and the right types of pressure.

What is important is not to panic, but to take a deep breath and follow the steps we outline in this post.

4 Types of Basement Walls

There are four basic types of basement walls used in residential construction today.

Poured concrete wall

The most common type is the poured concrete wall. As the name indicates, a poured concrete wall is created by pouring wet concrete into some type of wood or metal frame and allowing it to set.

Concrete block wall

The second most common type of wall is the concrete block wall, also sometimes called the cinder block wall or masonry block wall. The name gives its structure away—these are pre-made stacked blocks held together with mortar.

Solid concrete wall

Another relatively common wall type is the pre-made solid concrete wall. With this type of wall, the concrete is poured to set ahead of time and the drywall is then transported to the building site and set into place.

Brick, stone, clay wall

Brick, clay and stone walls are no longer common, but are still found in vintage and historic homes with basements.

3 Types of Basement Wall Cracks

Basement wall cracks can happen for a variety of reasons. However, there are three main categories of triggers for the majority of basement wall cracks.


Shrinkage describes what happens when a poured concrete wall starts to dry. Some amount of shrinkage is to be expected as the poured concrete dries, even under optimal weather and “curing” (concrete drying) conditions.

However, a number of variables can interact to create less than optimal conditions for curing a newly poured concrete wall. Dramatic temperature shifts, sub-optimal concrete mixes, super-wet or dry conditions and other factors can impact how much shrinkage occurs and how that shrinkage affects your basement walls.


Settling is what happens when your basement walls begin to interact with the surrounding soil or water table.

This might happen over time as a result of shifting terrain or changing water table levels or soil composition. Or it could happen more rapidly after a severe weather event such as a major flood.


Movement can include settling. When the surrounding soil and terrain shifts, this can cause your basement walls and foundation to shift.

Poor drainage, blocked window wells or inadequate landscape grading can also cause hydrostatic pressure against one or more basement walls, causing them to bow inward or outward, lean, tilt or bulge.

3 Steps to Take After Noticing a Basement Wall Crack

First and foremost, what you need to know is that any crack in your basement wall always carries a message with it. Your job is to decode the message your basement is sending you and that will tell you what steps to take next.

1. Call in the pros

Unfortunately, most homeowners know little if anything about deciphering basement wall crack messages. For this, you will want to bring in an expert who can examine the crack in detail, figure out how it may have formed and what, if any, action needs to be taken next.

Some cracks are relatively normal, even unavoidable. Shrinkage-related cracks, for example, will nearly always happen when your basement walls are constructed from poured concrete. The goal here is to minimize the shrinkage, not eradicate it entirely.

But other cracks are more serious, even if they don’t always look serious. Some basement wall cracks are so slight they are almost impossible to see with the naked eye, and you can detect them only when a white material called “efflorescence” starts to form near the crack. Efflorescence is a build-up of mineral salts left behind when seeping moisture evaporates.

2. Evaluate your options

Basement experts have all kinds of wonderful technology that can help diagnose what is causing basement cracks, how serious those cracks may be and the best corrective options.

Many homeowners are quite reluctant to reach out to an expert, thinking it will lead to thousands of dollars in basement repair expenses. The important thing to remember here is that you simply need to know what is wrong. You don’t necessarily need to take action to fix it right away.

Some cracks are relatively minor and may only require the help of a dehumidifier to extract excess moisture to prevent mould and mildew growth. For cracks that do represent significant structural impact, the more you can learn about what has caused the crack, the better you can plan ahead and budget to fix it.

3. Create your corrective plan of action

All kinds of creative options are available today to fix foundation cracks.

Sometimes the simplest option is affordable basement waterproofing, which effectively seals up your basement walls and foundation from the inside against cracks and the resultant leaks.

Sometimes a two-step approach is required—first repairing cracks by installing supportive wall anchors, braces or reinforcers and then applying basement waterproofing to prevent additional moisture from entering your basement space.

Get in Touch

Are you concerned because you have recently found evidence of a basement wall crack or moisture seepage inside your basement? We can help!

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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My Basement Is Always Humid: What Basement Humidity Means & How to Fix It

dehumidifier for humid basement

There are some times when adding humidity to your indoor air is a good thing. A bit of strategically managed humidity can improve your health, ease the signs of aging skin, fight off static and keep home furnishings in good repair.

But too much humidity or humidity in the wrong places can be damaging. Your basement is one of those places where you just don’t want to have overly humid air.

According to the Basement Health Association, overly humid air is the number one cause of mould, mildew and major basement repairs.

If your basement space always seems overly humid compared to your above-ground environment, it’s time to take action. In this post, we discuss what can cause basement humidity, what it means and how to fix it.

Aiming for the Ideal Humidity Range

Natural Resources Canada strongly recommends maintaining an indoor air humidity level of 30 to 50 percent year-round.

When humidity rises above 50 percent, this creates conditions ripe for mould and mildew to colonize and spread. Similarly, when humidity drops below 30 percent, the extreme dryness can cause respiratory distress for you and creaks and cracks for your wood furnishings.

Because outdoor air humidity levels can fluctuate outside of this range seasonally, sometimes it can be difficult at first to diagnose a problem with basement air humidity.

Why Basements Become Chronically Humid

How does a basement become too humid? The most obvious reason is the presence of a water leak. When moisture seeps into your basement, this naturally raises the moisture content inside the space.


But what many homeowners don’t realize is that often basement leaks are too small to be easily seen. Most basements are made from poured concrete or concrete blocks. Concrete is a naturally porous material that will continue to settle over time.

With shifting soil, storms, changing water table levels and other natural factors, micro-fissures and tiny cracks can begin to form and let in water.

If you never see standing water in your basement but the air is continually humid, you may have one or several of these tiny micro-fissures allowing water to slowly infiltrate your basement space.


Of course, leaks can get much bigger, and sometimes outright cracks will form and you can see water coming in.

Clogs or drainage blocks

Clogged gutters, blocked window wells, malfunctioning downspouts or shifting landscaping can compound the issue and create a situation where water enters with increasing ease.

Sump problems

Another way water come in is when the sump pump system begins to wear out. This can happen due to old age or increasing demand that the sump system was never designed to handle.

What Happens When Your Basement Is Chronically Humid

Why be concerned about a chronically humid basement?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cites a number of concerning health and structural issues that can arise when your basement is overly humid or damp.

Over time, a chronically humid basement may cause warped, bowed or sagging walls and floors, mould and mildew, bacteria growth, damage and destruction of stored materials or basement furnishings, windows and doors that won’t open or close and similar structural issues.

Similarly, basement humidity can cause issues with your above-ground structure as well, especially once mould and mildew take hold and begin to spread, leading to extensive and costly remediation work.

How to Fix a Humid Basement

Having a basement can increase your resale value by adding useable space. But it can also become a headache when maintenance needs arise.

There are two ways to approach fixing a chronically humid or damp basement space.

Put a band-aid on it

The first is what we call a “band-aid” approach. You can install a portable dehumidifier to pull moisture out of the air. For minor issues with basement humidity, sometimes this is all that’s needed for a time.

But this isn’t what we recommend for a long-term solution. You can be pretty sure that your basement humidity issues are not going to resolve on their own!

Even if you don’t have any desire to sell your home right now, not properly fixing the issue can be a liability when you do want to put your home on the market. More importantly, ignoring or band-aiding chronic basement moisture issues can cause structural issues with your whole home over time.

Waterproof your basement

Affordable basement waterproofing is one of the hands-down best ways to fix a humid basement permanently. There are two methods for how to fix a leaky basement: exterior waterproofing and interior waterproofing.

From a basement waterproofing cost perspective, we typically recommend the latter.

In fact, waterproofing your basement from the outside is typically financially feasible only as a preventative approach to protect new basement construction. For existing homes with humid or leaking basements, interior basement waterproofing works just as well and is vastly more affordable!

For micro-fissures that are permitting a bit of extra moisture to seep in, interior basement waterproofing alone is often sufficient to solve the problem permanently.

If your basement has developed a larger crack that is letting in more water, or if you have blocked window wells or issues with your above-ground drainage or landscaping, we may recommend a combination approach that includes repairs and interior basement waterproofing to protect your home and basement from humidity over the long term.

The good news is, interior waterproofing can be done on a finished or an unfinished basement space. If your basement is unfinished, the interior waterproofing treatment will not impact the option for finishing your basement at a later date.

Get in Touch

Are you concerned because your basement always seems uncomfortably humid? We can help!

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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I Found White Flaky Stuff on My Basement Walls: What Should I Do?


That white flaky stuff you see is called “efflorescence.” It’s mineral salt residue that gets left behind when water evaporates. Sometimes it looks like white dust at first, but then you realize it’s in the middle of the wall or in another odd spot where dust normally doesn’t collect.

So what is efflorescence? How does it get there? What does it mean and what should you do? That is what we will discuss in this post!

Efflorescence: What Is It & Where Does It Come From?

At its most fundamental, water is a molecule made up of atoms. The water molecule contains precisely three atoms: two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom (or H2O, as you probably know). But water can also have lots of other things in it, too!

Water is what chemists call a solvent—a substance that has the power to dissolve other substances. In fact, water is a universal solvent, which means it can dissolve more different types of substances than any other solvent on the planet.

As well, the way water is constructed, with two positively charged hydrogen atoms and one negatively charged oxygen atom, lots of substances that need dissolving are naturally attracted to it. Salts, minerals, chemicals and other substances are drawn to water, so water picks these substances up as it flows toward wherever it’s going.

Then it gets to your basement—from a recent storm or a rising water table, or from sprinkler system runoff or some other route—and it is carrying all these other substances with it. What happens next?

How Efflorescence Gets Into Your Basement

“Efflorescence” comes from a French word that means “to flower out.” This is exactly what efflorescence does! That dusty white matter you see is composed of the mineral salts “flowering out” as the water that carried them inside your basement evaporates, leaving them high and dry (so to speak) and in plain sight.

What is interesting about the building blocks of the typical basement structure—concrete blocks, poured concrete, masonry bricking—is that this material is naturally somewhat porous. Basically, this means that water can and does regularly penetrate the material.

In past centuries, when basements were installed directly over cellars as a point of access to food supplies stored beneath, no one much cared if the basement area took on a bit of water or became seasonally humid. But today, people live, work and play in basements, which are viewed as an extension of the home’s useful space.

So today, when a new basement is being constructed, some type of initial damp-proofing protection is typically applied. But this initial application has a shelf life, which can be shortened further by shifting soil, changing water table levels, ground settling and other factors.

As the initial damp-proofing wears off, porous concrete begins to take on moisture in a number of ways. This moisture makes its way through tiny capillaries and pores in the concrete and seeps into your basement, where it slowly evaporates and leaves behind its calling card—dried mineral salts, or efflorescence.

What Efflorescence Is Trying to Tell You

As you may have figured out by now, efflorescence is carrying a message from your basement to you to let you know moisture is getting inside somehow.

Its primary routes may be micro-fissures or capillaries—tiny channels so small they can be nearly impossible to perceive with the unaided eye. Water can also enter through larger fissures or cracks that are visible.

Another way water routinely gets in is through windows when window well drains get backed up or simply degrade and stop working. Water can also seep up from the ground through your foundation and cause dampness on the basement floor.

If this seepage is quite slow, efflorescence may be the only warning sign to alert you that your basement has a leak.

Here, it can help to do an initial walk-through and note the areas where you see efflorescence. Next, clean the white powder away from those areas and wait a few days and do another walk-through. Notice if you see efflorescence everywhere or just in one specific area. This will give you information about where and how moisture may be entering.

What to Do About Efflorescence in Your Basement

Learning how to control damp, moisture and water leaks inside basements is an ongoing science. As homes get older, new problems are discovered and new solutions are created to solve those problems.

The best step after discovering basement efflorescence and doing your basement walk-through to find as many affected areas as you can is to contact a professional to inspect and evaluate your basement’s risk level for water damage.

In some cases, the risk may be low and a dehumidifier can handle the moisture removal to buy you some time to budget and plan. In other cases, the moisture may point to a bigger structural issue that needs resolution before it worsens and turns into a major repair.

Affordable basement waterproofing options exist to prevent moisture damage in your basement, provide peace of mind and improve the future resale value of your home. Best of all, waterproofing basement walls from inside will not impact the usability of your basement space.

Get in Touch

Are you concerned by the presence of efflorescence inside your basement? We can help!

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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